Quick update after Uni

So, I’ve finished uni now (I get my grades next week). I’ve also moved to another house share. I still work at Levi’s and will do for the foreseeable. But now I need a new goal. And I have one: my own home.

Now, I want to be free, so it will hopefully by either a Tiny House (if I can sort out the land and plumbing situation) or a houseboat. And the first hurdle to overcome is money. I need to earn more and/or spend less. Spending less is virtually impossible, but I’m looking into ways of doing it.

Spending less is one long-term benefit of my latest obsession: being (nearly) zero-waste. I want to grow my own food too. I’ve started making my own underwear (after about 10 years, the old stuff finally wore through). But I’ll go into my new “Elven” ways (rather than “hippy” ways) in more detail in future posts.

This blog can no longer be a Student blog, so I’m rebranding it with the interest of Sustainability and Ethical Living, and Hygge and all that good stuff. I don’t know what it will look like yet, but it will unfold 🙂 Fear not, sewing WILL be involved. I think sustainability will be such a part of me that it will have to channel through my career, however that pans out. I feel like the picture is just becoming clearer and in more colour now. I can’t see it properly yet, but it’s slowly getting there 🙂


The Viking Dress

Some years ago now, I came across an article in Threads Magazine about Zero-Waste patterns. There was a Viking dress in there, and it kind of stuck with me. As Tolkien was largely inspired by Scandinavian culture/myths and legends, and would likely have been a proponent of sustainability, I thought I’d have a go at using this concept.

The initial design is very different to the final one.

Initial Design


It looks wildly different on different sizes. This is actually a couple of sizes too big for me. It looks miles better with a belt. 🙂 The sleeves were too narrow for anyone bigger.


Trying it on the right size mannequin. With potential embellishment. I like it better on me. Moving on…

The Final Dress

Completely different silhouette. And I love it! 😀 Note the dart in the back hem that just curves the silhouette. 🙂

I tried it on one of my taller friends and we established that for a model to wear it, it would have to be longer. So I added a few inches. Also enlarged the neckline.


DSC00522.JPGViking dress portfolio.jpg

It’s a versatile pattern because you can remove the sleeves and wear it as a pinafore or a sleeveless, so it’s a good transitional piece, or you can switch up the sleeve and pleat fabric. I’d like to make it in a lighter colour. I have some grey jersey, but that might be a bit sweatshirtish, in a bad way. :/

Also, pockets are essential. 🙂

Hi-low coat

I was doing some decorating in a very cold building so I had to wear my coat. Consequently it got white paint on it, and the coat is navy blue. I had hoped that, it being water-based paint, it would wash off in the rain, but it didn’t. So I’ve cut off the bottom of the coat and given it quite a different look.

Note: my camera decided to ignore me on the face-recognition timer, so by the time I got this shot I was eating one of my home-made scones. Please excuse me, but it was the best shot. 🙂

cycling coat 3/4 view

cycling coat back view

I closed the vent in the back because it was uncomfortable to cycle in when I landed on it on my saddle.

coat side view

Side note: I don’t know if any other countries do this, but in England we wear a red poppy (usually paper) on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day (which is today, the 11th November) to honour those who gave their lives for us in the World Wars. According to the Royal British Legion,

The Royal British Legion is a charity whose objectives are written in its Royal Charter.  The charity looks after serving and ex-servicemen, women and their dependants who are in need, financially or otherwise.

I wear mine for the service men and women serving since and now as well (that’s what the red thing on my coat is). God bless you all. I salute you. (I’m not collecting or anything, I just have a profound respect for and thanks for those in the Services.)


Coat Hiccup: I did try to do this the proper way of turning the bagged coat inside-out and re-sewing the hem, but for one reason or another it ended up all wavy, protruding in all directions that way. Maybe it stretched out during sewing, maybe there was an issue with the lining. Maybe I’ll never know. So I put the coat on in front of a mirror and pinned it as it looked best (yes, I used pins), Then simply topstitched the new, slightly-shorter-than-intended hemline. At least it’s presentable now. I quite like the end result really.

So that’s what I did last night. Why? Because I’m working on a cycling coat for a college project. More on that as it comes, mainly on Instagram because it’s quicker than blogging and counts towards my Project 365. 🙂



How to Sew The Viking Dress from Threads Magazine

I noticed that someone had searched for sewing instructions for the Viking Dress that was in the last issue of Threads Magazine (155). So I figured it out and have made this post with drawings made on Paint (please forgive the less than brilliant drawings).

I hope you’ll forgive me, but I haven’t included measurements. I would have done, but I thought I had better not, just in case it infringed on copyright. Sorry. Suffice it to say, the dress has to fit on you with ease, and you need extra width for the two straps. Seam allowances are included too.

Anyway, this is what the pattern looks like. Personally I think it looks like a fairytale castle now that I’ve coloured it in like this.

Your fabric will be in a single layer.

The dress is basically a tube divided into three with godets in the seams. One third of the dress is the front (in pink). The blue pieces labelled ‘side back’ are mirror images of each other. There are godet pieces: 3 full triangles (dark green) and two half triangles (light green). The brown strip is for two shoulder straps.

First, let’s add the godets.

Since the dress is really three peculiarly shaped columns sewn together, we have to make the side/back columns whole. To do this, take one side/back panel and one half triangle. Matching the bottom and keeping raw edges even, stitch them together. Repeat for the other side.

Take two of the full godet peices (dark green) and sew one to each side of the front of the dress (pink).

Sew the remaining godet (dark green) to one of the side back pieces at the blue kick.

Now sew a zip down the centre back seam (as indicated by the red line – it’s hard to illustrate such things when you are drawing using Paint) if you need one. Then hem the skirt, and hem the top of the dress.

Cut the straps strip in two lengthways. Fold one of the strips in half lengthways, RS together and sew across one end, and down the long end.

TIP: when you sew across the short end, have a piece of ribbon, thick thread or string at least an inch longer than the strap fabric, laying inside the strap with a bit of the end across the short seam’ allowance. This way you can use the long end to pull the strap RS out. Note: I blew the picture up so that it was big enough to see properly. This isn’t all of the brown section because it’s cut in two and then each of the halves were folded in half.

Snip across the corner that is sewn, near to but not through the stitching. This makes the corner lie flatter.

When you have turned it RS out, snip off the pull and turn in the remaining end. Sew one end to the front of the dress where you want it to be attached, or to the back if you want the dress to fasten at the front like dungarees. Repeat with the other strap and try the dress on. When you have the straps in the finished position, mark it and take off the dress.

Cut the straps to the required length remembering to leave enough fabric to turn the ends in (to finish them) and to sew them to the dress or add buttons. If you are going to sew them there, about 1 inch (2.5cm) will do for turning in and stitching to the dress. If you want buttons, you may like to have a bit extra, depending on the button.

To finish the ends, turn them in  5 eighths of an inch (1.5cm) and stitch the ends closed, either by machine or with a slipstitch by hand. Now you can sew them to the dress. You can do this securely by sewing a square with an X in it like you see on bags. If you are using buttons and buttonholes, sew the vertical buttonholes on the dress part first, and then check the button positions on the straps. You can also use Velcro/hook and loop tape or strong snap fasteners to fasten the dress.

There are many styling opportunities for this dress. For a start, you can make it any length you want, you could add more godets, you can change the way it is opened by adding plackets like on a shirt, you can add trimmings and embroidery. Made in silky fabric it could make a lovely special occasion dress. You could even make this dress for a little girl! If you have any ideas, please share them below! : )

Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown

"How to Avoid Tangled Embroidery Threads and Recycle Used Thread Spools"

When you have reached the end of a spool of thread don’t throw it away! You can use it again and solve another problem at the same time. You can avoid tangled embroidery skeins by winding the thread onto you empty spool.

If you want to keep note of the colour number, you can put a little sticker on top, or just stick the paper from the skein with the number on top.
This is a much tidier way to keep your threads.
You can do this with thread that comes on a card as well, and the spools won’t get tatty like card does!
If you you have bobbins that don’t fit your sewing machine, you could use those. I haven’t tried those yet, so I don’t know how much floss they will hold, but they are a much better size for travelling!
How do you save sewing waste? Have you solved any problems by recycling? Please share your tips below. : )
Until next time, happy sewing!
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner